Grandma’s sour cream lemon pie

My grandma loved to make this sour cream lemon pie — it is such a perfect spring dessert. Mom made one for us last weekend with some lemons a co-worker had brought from home and we ate it up!

Grandma’s other tradition was to make my mom a little pie of her own in this sweet mini pie dish. So mom saved the dish and now she can make Harper a little pie to go with the big one. So cute.

Here’s the full recipe.

Grandma's sour cream lemon pie
Serves 8
A tart and creamy dessert for spring.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  3. 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  4. 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  5. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  6. 1 cup milk
  7. 1 cup sour cream
  8. 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  9. 9-inch pie shell, baked (if you have a scratch recipe, all the better!)
  10. 1 cup whipped cream for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add butter, lemon zest and juice, milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil and thicken.
  2. Remove from heat and fold in sour cream. Pour the mixture into your cooled pie shell.
  3. Refrigerate until the pie is nice and firm. Top with lemon slices and serve with whipped cream.
Notes
  1. Meyer lemons work great, too!
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

My first time making gumbo (and corned beef)

I used to be a pretty voracious blog reader, but lately my Feedly has been skimmed to a select few blogs I occasionally have time to read. I keep reading them, though, because I realized that even though that time is precious, it is mine. And I really like discovering new recipes, new crafts, and whatever else I find there. It’s kind of nice, actually, to have culled a giant mess of posts down to the ones I truly care about and will get something from. 

So, that is how I found this recipe for chicken and sausage gumbo from one of my long-time favorite reads, Iowa Girl Eats. Check out her post for pictures of all the steps. I was kind of intimidated to try gumbo, but it was not hard at all. And it turned out so well! We all wanted to lick our bowls after dinner. 

Changes I made (of course): I used chicken breasts cut into chunks instead of thighs so I wouldn’t have to shred it after it cooked. And I realized mid-week that I was out of tomato paste, so I just squeezed in a little ketchup and that seemed to work. Sometimes you gotta be MacGyver in the kitchen! 

For St. Patrick’s Day I also tackled a new-to-me meal — corned beef and cabbage. I used Martha’s recipe, which is not so much a recipe as an instruction to throw everything in the Crock Pot and let it cook all day.

I was surprised that it made a clear broth rather than a gravy after all that time, but the meat turned out perfectly and the veggies were good, too. I had so many left over that I ended up roasting them in the oven with a baked chicken yesterday and they were even better. 

Donut muffins

Speaking of recipes you have to make…

I found this recipe for donut muffins on Red Tricycle and I knew I had to try it. I first had one of these scrumptious breakfast desserts at Bette’s Diner in Berkeley and I immediately fell in love. The muffin itself is pretty plain, but then it’s dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar (a la Bubble Bread), which sends it over the top.

The only thing I changed was to scale back the cinnamon to a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon. I feel like people have a compulsion to add too much cinnamon to recipes. Or maybe it’s just me. But I thought the batch of muffins I made turned out perfectly and they were gone in a flash!

Homemade pastry pups

We made these for New Years and the Superbowl and they were SO GOOD. They’re basically just a homemade version of Trader Joe’s Pastry Pups. Which are like a fancied up version of a pig in a blanket.

I always liked the way they used puff pastry instead of plain bread. So I thought, why not just roll up some ‘lil smokies in a puff pastry sheet and call it good?

So basically all you do is thaw 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry dough and then unfold them (one at a time) on a cookie sheet. At this point you have the dough kind of naturally divided into thirds. So just cut along those folds so you have 3 pieces. then cut those in half to get six. Then cut diagonally across each piece to get 12 triangles.

No need to spring for any kind of fancy dog. These store-brand ones were great.

Then roll up a dog in each piece of dough and place them a couple inches apart on the cookie sheet. (You could sprinkle them with a little parmesan cheese here, although I didn’t and I don’t think they need it.)

I think I baked them at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. But just check on them periodically and take them out when the dough is puffed up and starting to brown. 

They are so yummy dipped in a little mustard.

Make both sheets because 12 will not last very long at all. Trust me.

Some recipes that worked

As you might have guessed, the last couple months have been crazy busy. I had some success selling hats and cowls at local shops, which has been awesome. But it’s so much work on top of what I was already doing with Etsy that I’ve had to rethink my whole business and what I want it to look like. Life is only going to get busier, so I’m thinking about phasing some things out and focusing on what I know will sell and creating more patterns, which bring in steady income without the headaches and time commitment of actually making the items. 

So anyway, cooking has been a lot of quick and easy meals lately, but I thought I’d share a few recipes that were winners. 

This balsamic onion chicken that you serve over egg noodles could not be easier. I usually add a little bit of cream to the sauce or thicken it with some cornstarch. 

For New Years I made black eyed peas with a leftover ham hock for the first time using this New York Times recipe. It’s not the most beautiful recipe, but it tasted really good. It was definitely the perfect way to use up leftover ham. Perhaps it would be worth making again after Easter? 

We actually had more good food for New Years than I care to admit. But another winner was this recipe for baked brie bites. I used lollipop sticks to hold them up and they disappeared in minutes! These would be perfect for any occasion when you wanted a little bite-sized appetizer. 

For a weeknight dinner, I highly recommend Real Simple’s rigatoni with bacon and peas. I used a can of crushed tomatoes instead of fresh ones, so it became kind of a kitchen sink of items I already had on hand. Any pasta would work. Try it!

And finally, I made Smitten Kitchen’s chicken noodle soup last week and it was once again the perfect soothing soup. We might have to make it again since Harper has a cold and it seems like the rest of us may be going down too. 

Harper’s 2nd birthday party is coming up in a couple week’s and I’m planning on making a fun birthday cake in the shape of Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba. (Am I nuts?) We also got a crazy good deal on a midcentury table and chairs from the antique mall where mom has her stuff, so that will be another fun project to share. 

3-bean chili, the meat version

I still really love my vegetarian chili recipe, but lately we’ve been eating a meaty version of it, and it’s great, too. For the meat version, I added ground beef, but left out some of the veggies, herbs and chipotle chiles.

So it’s basically a simplified version that’s a little less spicy. Although, you could certainly add the chiles for extra heat or add the veggies to make it healthier. It’s a very adaptable recipe.

We always have our chili with a little bit of cheddar cheese and saltine crackers. These little ones are still my favorite. 

3-bean and beef chili
Serves 8
Hearty chili for cold nights.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground beef
  2. 1 small (or half large) onion, chopped
  3. 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  4. 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  5. 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  6. 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained
  7. 15-ounce can chili beans
  8. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. Shredded cheddar cheese and saltine crackers (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium and add the ground beef, onions and green peppers. Cook until the beef browns and the onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and salt.
  3. Add the tomatoes and all the beans and stir really well. Place a lid on the pot and heat the mixture until it's bubbling.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Serve with shredded cheese and crackers.
Notes
  1. If you like your chili spicy, add one chipotle chili in adobo sauce with the tomatoes and beans.
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

Easy chicken gyros and tzatziki sauce

I picked up this recipe from the Say Yes blog a few months ago and it has become a staple in our house. It couldn’t be easier to throw together these gyros on a weekend night when you don’t have a lot of time to cook. Just put the chicken in a bag to marinate while you do a few other things and then saute up the meat. 

Go here for the full recipe.

We have just a few cherry tomatoes growing in our back yard (when Harper doesn’t pick off all the green ones) and they work great as a topping. 

Any kind of pita, lavash, or pocket bread will do. 

You can whip up tzatziki sauce in just a few minutes. Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt

Taste it and see if it needs a little more of anything. It’s not a terribly precise recipe. 

When your chicken and onions are just starting to brown, they’re done. Put everything together and dinner’s ready. 

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

If I thought my last stab at gluten-free baking was successful, these cookies were even better.

I’d been looking for a way to use almond meal (a bargain at Trader Joe’s, though you can grind it fresh yourself) for a while and when I saw this recipe for coconut-chocolate chip cookies I had to try it. 

Though the cookies don’t plump up like traditional chocolate chip cookies, they are a little crisp on the outside and chewy inside. I used mini chocolate chips instead of chopped dark chocolate but otherwise stuck with the recipe. It’s a good base that would be good with other add-ins too.

Everyone in my house loved the cookies. They’re not too sweet. More like granola bars than cookies. My only complaint is that the recipe doesn’t make enough. You’ll definitely want to double it!

Skillet meals


Skillet enchiladas, so good.

These days I’m a big fan of dinners that come together in one pot, pan or skillet. It’s kind of the Hamburger Helper concept — saute meat and maybe some onions or other veggies, add in pasta or rice plus water and seasonings, put the lid on and let it simmer until the pasta is cooked through. Top with cheese (no cheese powder needed…) and serve. Usually the prep is under half and hour and you only have one pan to wash. My kind of dinner!

Here are some of my favorite recipes. They are getting me through life with a toddler, that’s for sure:

Chicken enchiladas skillet

Cheeseburger mac (I always use less paprika and add more cheese)

Mexican taco bowl spaghetti, great with macaroni pasta too

• Southwestern chicken and rice skillet, topped with cheese 

 
Skillet lasagna (I add sweet red peppers)
 
 
All-veggie options:
 
 
 
I’m surprising myself at how many of these recipes I have! Hopefully it helps if you need a quick recipe.

Buttery peas and potatoes

This was a favorite side dish growing up. I hadn’t made it for ages and when I finally dug out the recipe I couldn’t believe it didn’t include dill. So I added some. 😉

My mom always boiled the potatoes and then added the other ingredients (which you can certainly do), but this time I sauteed it all in a pan together. I’m all about one-pan dishes these days.

It was just as good as I remembered. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the butter. It’s key!

Buttery peas and potatoes
A simple spring side dish.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound new potatoes, any variety
  2. 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  5. 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  6. 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  7. 10 ounces frozen peas
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse potatoes and remove any bad spots. Cut them into 1-inch pieces, unless they are smaller than that already.
  2. Heat butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the potatoes, bay leaf and herbs and stir to combine. Put a lid over your pan and steam the potatoes, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add in the peas and let them steam until they're warm. If your pan gets too dry, you can always add a little more butter.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/